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Valentino Drops Facchinetti; Installs Chiuri and Piccioli
October 04th, 2008 @ 2:35 PM - Paris
The house of Valentino has dropped Alessandra Facchinetti as its designer and replaced her with two former assistants of the founder of the label, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.
Announced officially Saturday, Oct. 4, after weeks of embarrassing rumors for the label, the decision was hailed by Valentino Garavani, an unusual step for a former designer, even a house founder.
The house confirmed in the release that Chiuri and Piccioli will be joint creative directors of all the lines within the brand Valentino. That statement noted that Chiuri and Piccioli each “spent over a decade working directly for Monsieur Valentino Garavani and creating the accessories collections. They perfectly… interpreted the universe of Valentino, bringing an important contribution to the results of the brand.”
The house added that it thanked Facchinetti for “her creative contribution and artistic refinement.”
Thus, Friday’s runway show of the spring 2009 ready-to-wear Valentino collection will be Facchinetti’s last for the house, and only her third in all including a haute couture collection presented in Paris this past July.
"It was with deep regret that I learnt from the press that I would no longer be working with Valentino. This news came as a great surprise since the company’s top management has not yet seen fit to inform me of the above,” lamented Facchinetti in her own statement, issued before Valentino's own official release.
Generally speaking, Facchinetti earned positive reviews from critics for her lighter, younger take on Valentino, even if her experiments in volume with her couture show for the house were a good deal more avant garde than the founder's style. Moreover, several major international retailers told FWD they were poised to open significant Valentino corners and boutiques but will now have to reconsider those projects.
In effect, Facchinetti's position had been undermined by a long series of recent rumors that she was at loggerheads with Stefano Sassi, chairman and chief executive officer of Valentino, and that her RTW for the Roman label had not been a major commercial success.
Adding fuel to the fire, Valentino released his own comment Saturday.
“They (Chiuri and Piccioli) are great, serious and capable professionals who were at my side for many years and who always had a great respect and love for my work. There are thousands of models in the archives that can and must be the inspiration for a Valentino product adapted for the present time.”
And in an arrow at Facchinetti, Valentino, who never attended any of her shows, sniffed: “It’s a great pity that the person who preceded them never felt this need.”
Valentino announced his retirement in September 2007, seven weeks after celebrating his 45th anniversary in fashion with a sumptuous weekend in Rome. His departure came three months after equity fund Permira won a takeover battle to acquire the Valentino Fashion Group, in a deal that valued the designer’s fashion house at $380 million.
And in a further diss of the departing designer, Valentino’s long-time partner Giancarlo Giammetti, sneered: “Pretending to transform and revolutionize the Valentino style is a utopia which was lost in advance.”
Commentary aside, the hiring and firing was widely regarded as clumsy by most fashion watchers. It led to the bizarre scene backstage after the Friday show where journalists were presented with the sight of Facchinetti taking compliments from well wishers, even as Sassi stood near by confirming that an announcement of her replacement would soon be made, as it was 24 hours later.
“I would like to thank Valentino... for showing their appreciation of my creative contribution and my sophisticated talent although I deeply regret the fact that this talent and contribution do not seem to have been adequately acknowledged. I find it extremely sad that a brand label of the caliber of Valentino, which has made history in the world of fashion, has been the subject of rumors for the past two weeks,” complained Facchinetti.
Chiuri and Piccioli, little known outside of the house, expressed their excitement and honor at “this opportunity... We will remain faithful to the fundamental values of the house, developing new ideas which can combine the heredity of the house to a more contemporary concept. We are very implicated professionally and sentimentally with the house and its management team and we cannot wait to take on this new challenge.”
Added the Permira appointed Sassi, “I think Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Picioli have all the qualities, both in terms of creativity and also management, to make the Valentino brand stronger in the world of luxury.”
“The response to their accessory collections and their deep understanding of the spirit of Valentino makes them the ideal choice to reinforce and develop the company’s projects.”